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tv   [untitled]    June 27, 2014 3:00am-3:31am PDT

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allow us more tools in the toolbox, that's been said a couple times already, to provide services to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. we support the implementation of laura's law, we thank supervisor farrell for carrying it, we recommend the committee forward this to the full board. it has proven successful, as the previous speaker mentioned, it has proved successful in nevada county. it has also proved successful in los angeles county, we believe it will reduce violence here in our county. thank you for your time. >> good morning, supervisors, my name is tom o'connor, i am president of the local san francisco fire fighters local 778 and i am speaking here today to express our full support for the implementation of laura's law. as fire fighters in san francisco we have a duty and responsibility to
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protect our duties from fire and other emergencies but our duties also require us to respond to the medical needs of others, both homeless and other individuals. for some of these individuals when our ambulances assist them, it is not the first time. we see them day in and day out. we get to know them by their first name, we see what street corners they hang out on and too many times watch them slowly decline in health and self-respect. it's almost as if you are watching them commit suicide slowly because they can't get into a facility that can help them out. this cycle that i speak of is not only a detriment to the resources of the department but more importantly a detriment to the individuals we are watching slowly fall into greater and grader disrepair. our union supports the implementation of laura's law because these services free up the resources of the fire department but
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also will help provide a community based individualized treatment that is needed by these individuals and mental illness is a very serious topic and many of us wouldn't, we wouldn't go past an injured animal without reaching out to help them and too often many of us are going past injured human beings without reaching out to help them and if they can't help themselves, it is incumbent upon us to help them get the care they need. so local 798 supports laura's law implementation and urge you to bring it before the full board. >> before the next speaker our district attorney has arrived so i want to give him the microphone. >> thank you, good morning, committee members. i want to say i am in support and our office is in support of this legislation. no. 1, i think we are talking about human treatment of people
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that need different level of services and i think what we have done for too long is that we have incarcerated, we have dealt with people that really need medical support, we have dealt with them through the criminal justice system. and i believe that it is now the preferable way. so for that reason we support it. but i think there are also many other reasons. in addition to the human part of it, i think there are economic reasons that make sense as well. i think that we can treat this population in a much more thoughtful, much more economical way, by having the ability to provide treatment when we can. i believe you heard other speakers already talking about the success of this thing in other counties and we believe the science around this legislation supports this. i think it's also important to recognize it's just another tool and i know people talked about a tool in the box so i will take the box out of my comment, but it's just another tool. it's not going to cover all the problems but it's certainly
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another piece of a puzzle in order for us to deliver human as much ass to a population that needs it sorely. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. gascon, thank you for being here. next speaker, please come on up. ketara salani, bob bennett and sheila ganz >> hello, my name is steven jaffey, i am a lawyer here in san francisco, tomorrow is the 43rd anniversary of me being sworn in. i am also the father of a consumer for almost 20 years of mental health services. you are going to hear a lot of thought about beliefs and opinions. i would like to stick to what are undisputed facts and i'm going to make two points because i know my time is very short. you are going to hear laura's
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law criminalizes mental illness. that is false. there is nothing in laura's law with any tinge of any criminalization of any conduct. it is no more criminal than our conservatorship laws. you don't here people with dementia or their families arguing alzheimer's or dementia is criminalized because the courts get involved in creating or enforcing conservatorships. laura's law is no different. it operates the same way. the second point i want to make, and this has to do with civil rights versus medical necessity, you are going to hear mentally ill people have a right to refuse treatment and medication. competent people have a right to refuse it. you heard a big word thrown around
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here, anasdiagnosia in order to refuse treatment you have to be competent to do it and the people we are seeking to help with laura's law are not competent to refuse treatment because they don't know they are sick or they don't how sick they are. so obviously i could talk for days on this, if you have any questions i'd be glad to answer any. >> thank you very much. thank you. next speaker, please. >> good morning, honorable supervisors, i am a member of the veteran's coalition. please recommend the board to vote to implement laura's law and don't leave our veterans to suffer and die on the streets. please place a veteran on your team. they speak their own language. there will be 100,000 fewer female and male
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soldiers on active duty before the end of this year as afghanistan winds down. the department of veterans affairs scheduling scandal clearly shows that it is not ready for the return of treatment-resistant, treatment noncompliant female and male service members who are trained to be violent like me. the united states department of justice approved assistant outpatient treatment, laura's law, as an effective and efficient hospitalization reduction program in march of 2012 and that is another fact that cannot be ignored. too many california public mental health officials, however, continue to throw money down so-called mental health wellness rat holes which rely on the brutality of the treats to modify the behavior of people living with mental illness who are insight deficient that results in increased recidivism that is immoral and deadly for mental
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aelt persons like 34-year-old arrol chong while we have the opportunity to do the right thing and care for those who have unselfishly serve our nation and need our help now. thank you. >> thank you very much. next speaker, please. >> good morning, supervisors, john baisceros, san francisco travel association bt and here in support of this measure that would fully implement laura's law in the city and county of san francisco. we hear from our visitors that encountering individuals suffering from untreated mental health is often their most disturbing aspect of their visit here in san francisco and many ask why isn't the city doing more to help those individuals most in need here in san francisco. i think we all can agree that san
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francisco can do more to help residents facing acute mental health issues. these individuals deserve a better and more human solution than a life on the streets. the measure before you today offers a compassionate and caring approach that provides families with an avenue for securing help for their loved ones facing mental health issues until they can care for themselves. so we encourage, we appreciate the leadership of supervisor farrell and the leadership of supervisor campos in finding a way to move forward and we encourage this committee to favorably recommend the measure to the full board. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> hello, my name is dale milfe and i think you all know me. i consider laura's law a right to treatment for
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those who meet its very stringent criteria and i have been advocating for this since 2003, before any of you were active in politics. to those opposed, before voting no, please read the entire legislation so that you can at least make an informed decision. if you read it you will see all of the civil rights protections built into the law and understand that it will take nothing away from anyone capable of assessing voluntary services. it may be now too late for my own son. for the past 20 years he has been failed by the system. he suffers from severe and persistent scizo effective disorder. he is not getting effective care, his needs are nurse stabilized and is costing a fortune. he has cost medicare over $40,000 between april 3rd of this year and today and close to one million in total. he has accepted
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voluntary treatment but has never been able to consistently adhere to a treatment plan. i believe laura's law might have helped him regain some quality of life. he now has stage 4 mental illness. his brain has suffered 79 acute instances of psychosis. he has repeatedly either run away or been refused admission. so i have been called hysterical and angry and yes, i am, my son has been denied the right to get better care and i don't want this to happen to anyone else and i want you to vote for implementation of laura's law. >> thank you very much. next speaker please. >> good morning, board of supervisors, my name is katera timplan and i thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning. i know that emotions are high on both sides. and we all care
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deeply so i think that's something that we're all on the same page of. and we all agree on improving access and increasing opportunities to care for individuals. i think what this boils down to, the controversy that we all need to be fully aware of, is that laura's law, ab 1421, is about loosening the criteria of committing someone into treatment. right now under our current law for lps, you have be gravely disabled or a danger to self or others. that's when we invoke taking your rights away to force you into treatment. so you have to be gravely disabled. so any stories, horrible stories we're hearing, when it sounds like someone is gravely disabled, we have a current law that commits them into treatment. if they are a danger to self
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or others, the current law commits them to treatment and in fact that goes into the community also like the community conservatorship program. the current issue is that we are discussing loosening up the criteria of when we take someone's rights away and basing it on past history and problemistic pessimism, that someone says that someone will be, another person will relapse in the future and if i can read just one quote from the jeff ry swan sun, professor of psychiatry at duke university, who gets a lot of questions if they can predict violence or not and whether we should take their rights away and basically they come down to the psychiatrists and psychologists are not good at predicting violence in the future. so facing taking our rights away
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on a prediction of the future is a huge civil liberties issue. so i hope that we do not implement laura's law. >> thank you. next speaker please (applause). >> good morning, supervisors, my name is sheila ganz thank you so much supervisor farrell for introducing this bill, thank you supervisor campos for your amendments and supervisor tang, i live in the sunset. i am here today to strongly urge you to vote yes for laura's law, the right for treatment for severely mentally ill or assisted outpatient treatment. i am a member of nami my sister has schizophrenia and if her
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illness became so severe that she ended up on the street with no treatment, i would have devastated. she is a senior citizen and of small stature. i would fear great harm would come to her. i love living in san francisco. it's a beautiful city, it is enlightened in many ways. it's time to lift our city out of the dark ages when the severely mentally ill went untreated. approving laura's law which assures the right of treatment far outways in my opinion the right to live on the street, starve, possibly be attacked or murdered or do harm to others. please help the women and men on the streets of san francisco with severe mental illness by voting yes for laura's law today. >> thank you, next speaker please. >> supervisors, my name is bob bennett, i'm ceo of family
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service agency of san francisco and the selton institute. our agency recently won the science to service award from the national behavioral health council for our treatment, our voluntary treatment, of people with schizophrenia, many of whom are very reluctant to get into treatment. it's possible with the right services to get people into treatment, to diagnose them effectively and to remit their illness. before i was ceo of fsa i was a family member. we raised my sister-in-law's daughter, we had her diagnosed, she was diagnosed with adhd bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis nos and effective disregulation. she was prescribed antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilized, antiaxialitics, stimulants and depressants and when the
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doctors say, well, all she needs to do is comply with her treatment regimen and she will be fine, the answer is which treatment regimen. mental health, even though it is improving dramatically, does not have the capacity to effectively diagnose prognosis for people in order to get them into treatment. secondly there's been a lot of talk about the science behind this. the science does not support assisted outpatient treatment. and there are two components to laura's law. there is the treatment component and there is the compulsory treatment component. the only study that i know that separated those two things found that compulsion requires over 80 civil commitments to reduce one hospitalization and over 250 civil commitments to reduce one arrest. we all agree that there should be
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a focus on these individuals but a voluntary focus will work and not take away anybody's civil liberties. >> thank you, next speaker please. >> hello, my name is sally zinman. i am the executive director of the california peer run organization, it's a statewide organization for consumers, people who have been through the mental health system or diagnosed with mental illness. i am strongly opposed to ab 1421. you know, i am representing people who have been diagnosed with mental health issues. we are the loved ones and we are saying no to ab 1421. i
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think you have to listen to the people who will be directly affected by this statute. it's one of the few times that i know of or maybe the only time that the customer is not right. secondly, i am always so overwhelmed by this it's hard to talk about it, about the scapegoating of people diagnosed with mental illness for the vial nrepbs our country. we are not a risk factor. repeatedly throughout my activism, which has been 30 or 40 years, every research study keeps coming up with the same findings that mental illness alone does not increase a risk for violence. we are not a violence risk factor. also in terms of incompetence it's just not accurate and research backs it up that 50 percent of up do not know we are suffering
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and want help and support. that is pk, this has been propeled by those two myths. it's a matter of stigma discrimination but is so difficult to fight. as the last speaker spoke, there is an answer and the answer is committing ourselves to comprehensive voluntary services and doing the kind of outreach that would help people get into these services. every study that has been done that --. >> thank you, ma'am. we have only two minutes of public speaking per person. thank you very much. next speaker please. i have some more speaker cards. tim snarr, edwardo vega, who filled out two cards so really wants to speak here, david farillo, virginia lewis and marty english. >> good afternoon, i would
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like to have edwardo vega, the executive director of the mental health association, take my place and i will take his. thank you. >> thank you. sorry to see one of the supervisors gone. my job here today is to try to (inaudible) something which i think is a big source of the problem here. at the association we are a consumer advocacy organization, we do not generally oppose treatment, we don't oppose services, we work very hard to provide good services to our community. what you are seeing here today is actually something that we should all be concerned about is talking about what we need to do to improve services in our communities. the mayor's task force brought together a care advisory task force, that task force did not recommend implementing laura's law, although we did, out of our 36 recommendations, look at examining the pros and
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cons. put briefly, and i think mr. bennett referred to it, the problem with ab 1421 is being focused on as laura's law is not that it doesn't provide good services. the model for services is one we all would support, i think most of us in this room would support, positive engagement, the ability for families to be involved. i am also a family member. the court order process is the linchpin and the problem is regardless of the findings to the contrary about services and programs based on the laura's law format, the court order in itself has never been shown in several studies to have a positive effect on treatment. so do we want to do good things for our community? yes. do we want to waste public resources and time and energy fighting with each other about an unproven bureaucratic process
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to um pell people to services that are not working for them now? no, i say no, we do not need this, we've turned it back twice already in san francisco and you need to hear the community, not just the powerful speakers. >> thank you very much, next speaker please. >> greetings, supervisors, david elliot lewis. i am a cochair of the mental health board of san francisco and i was also appointed to the mayor's care advisory task force. interestingly, both groups, both the commission and the task force, could not agree on laura's law. it was very devicible for both groups. it's been very devicible for my own community. i'm a consumer as well. it's been like a fault line in the recovery community, dividing people. supervisor campos, i want to thank you for your amendments. i think they actually improve the law as is
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stated. however, i would state what you are supporting is still ultimately a coercive process. well, no one is going to be necessarily thrown in jail for not taking their medications. you are talking about appointing an oversight group that will basically pressure somebody to receive treatment under the threat if you don't receive treatment, you will then be put under an involuntary court ordered process. that is coercion and coercion doesn't work. none. research shows coercion works yet all groups, all sides, agree we need better services, better treatment. our city has lost 70 acute beds, we have lost over half our board and care facilities. we do need more treatment but we don't need coercion and when we do see coercion in the system, such as in new york with kendra's law, we see a
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disproportionate application to minorities, three times more likely in new york's population. i would ask you to put all the good elements of laura's law forward. if you don't comply with treatment you could be 5150 and if you are 5150 you are put in handcuffs and brought to psychiatric emergency services and that process is coercive and it's humiliating. >> thank you, next speaker please. >> good mornings supervisors, my name is tim snarr, i am here to urge you to send the recommendation for implementation of laura's law to the full board of supervisors. on may 20 i was at supervisor farrell's press conference at which mayor lee and dph director endorsed laura's law. among the speakers were the parents of laura wilcox. i was
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spoke by the eloquence and the commitment at turning this effect in their lives into a positive for other individuals. my stepson is almost 40 years old and has suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder for over 20 years. he has never been able to stick to a treatment plan. after 70-plus hospitalizations, most at his own request, and too many psychiatric breaks, we believe it is probably too late for this law to help him. however, for others who may still have a chance at leading productive lives those who are severely mentally ill without the insight to seek treatment or in the criminal justice system, laura's law may be a life saver. the status quo should no longer be acceptable. laura's law equals the right to treatment instead of the right to wander on the streets while their families pray for sudden
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insight. thank you. >> thank you, next speaker please. >> hello, my name is dave fariello, case management director, city-wide case management programs. we have been providing services to severely mentally ill adults in a voluntary way since 1980. but since 2002 we have been the primary provider for the san francisco behavioral health court, providing assisted outreach for those who are court ordered to do so. the carther foundation funded research which demonstrated effectiveness through the behavioral health court. if you come to our facility you cannot tell the difference between the two groups of clients. voluntary versus involuntary is a continuum, it's not an
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either/or situation. by the way, because we are part of a larger clinic we can provide services in the primary language of any client that walks through our door. so by supporting the assisted outpatient treatment for those who have not yet been criminalized, we will offer the same kind of effective services that will prevent rehospitalization and incarceration. so i think we ought to extend that to those who have not yet broken the law and also to avoid people getting in law. thank you. >> thank you very much, next speaker, please. >> good afternoon again, my name is maureen decass and i am here to oppose ab 1421. i have heard a lot of language going on that says this is not a panacea, this will not solve all of the problems which is absolutely true. yet what i do hear coming up
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over and over again is that somehow this will correct the homelessness problem in this city. it will not. there is a cognitive dissonance going on here of saying this law will take care of homelessness, yet it does not express how it will take care of that problem. what we've got is a law that will still have law enforcement coming in and still having to deal with people. it does not pull law enforcement out of them doing their job. it does not prevent homelessness. if anything, what it does is it puts people going through a court system but if trs no beds, if there is no help for these people, if there is no funding for these people, how do you expect these people to get the help and move off of the street? if you want to address the issue of homelessness then let's focus on laws that will work with people who are homeless, that will help get them off the street, and come back into society. but ab 1421 does not do that. i oppose this law and i hope
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you do not move forward with it. thank you. >> thank you, next speaker, please. >> hello, my name is kelly cutler and i am a voluntary at coalition of homelessness, a social worker, and i have been working with the homeless population in our city for a number of years, especially homeless youths and young adults. and i am opposed to laura's law. as a case manager i was consistently tasked with the challenge of connecting youth with social services to meet their needs. they wanted treatment, there were so many time and time again that wanted treatment, and it was an impossible task. i was constantly told that they were, you know, too ill, that they didn't have the services available. laura's law is to implement mandatory outpatient tme